When patient advocacy organizations meet industry: A novel approach to dealing with financial conflicts of interest

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Abstract

Background: Much like academic-industry partnerships, industry financial support of patient advocacy organizations (PAOs) has become very common in recent years. While financial conflicts of interest (FCOI) between PAOs and industry have received more attention in recent years, robust efforts to mitigate these conflicts are still limited. Main body: The authors outline the possible benefits and ethical concerns that can result from financial interactions between biomedical companies and PAOs. They argue that the use of novel strategies, such as the creation of a standing ethics committee, could be helpful in managing FCOIs and ensuring the warranted trust of PAO's constituents. Although ethics committees to address FCOIs are common in the academic context, its use by PAOs is still limited. The authors conclude by describing the process of development and implementation of such an ethics committee at the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. Conclusions: While collaborations with industry can result in conflicts of interest, PAOs can develop strategies to address those conflicts. One such strategy is the creation of a standing independent ethics committee to guide PAOs on new and/or existing programs and protocols as they pertain to their industry relationships.

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Ehrlich, O., Wingate, L., Heller, C., & De Melo-Martin, I. (2019). When patient advocacy organizations meet industry: A novel approach to dealing with financial conflicts of interest. BMC Medical Ethics, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-019-0435-1

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